Archive for 17th June 2005

Archive

The All-Consuming Tourist Gaze

Stunning, small, and ancient enough for tourists to keep their fingers from clicking away non-stop. At least, that was the perspective of Tallinn that preoccupied my mind as I began the short, southern catamaran journey across the Gulf of Finland. And to a large extent, it was true – quite literally, it was the new existing in the old. Exquisitely perched at Estonia’s northern coast, minus the gunk and grime of medieval life, Vanalinn (Tallinn’s old town) retains enough grit to tantalise with its ultramodern, meticulously furnished caf├ęs and restaurants that occupied the ground floors of restored medieval merchant houses. Upon arrival however, I had not realised several things: the...

Alcohol, Lakes and Myths

I did not understand a word, but loosened my death grip on the ubiquitous Lonely Planet Scandinavian Europe guide. When the group of middle-aged Finnish women grew increasingly boisterous as we neared Savonlinna (Finland’s major town of the Southeastern Lake District) on a dawdling and rickety regional train that connected us from Parikkala to Savonlinna Kauppatori, I reckoned it must and would be a place where room for regret is not permitted. The womens’ impromptu singing suddenly took a turn for the folksy (at least I think it was!), and then Olavinlinna Castle moved into view. Choric exclamations followed, and one woman in particular sang something that did appear to...